Goldman Sachs Asset Management has appointed Christopher Keogh as managing director and co-chief executive of Japan. The importance of his role is his responsibility for coordinating client activity in Japan, South Korea and China.

"The driving force behind this move is the significant level of client interest in the integration of these markets," says Oliver Bolitho in Hong Kong, whose role as managing director responsible for Asia ex-Japan has expanded to include Japan. The firm is dedicating more resources to asset management in Asia, he adds.

"There are increasing levels of direct investment flows and business links between Japan and Korea in particular," Bolitho notes, citing two examples: interest among Japanese investors in higher-yielding exposures to Korean equity and debt; and interest among Japanese authorities in how Korea is managing its sovereign wealth.

Keogh has for the past two years served as advisor to the chairman at Goldman Sachs Gao Hua Securities in Beijing, having built a career in equity sales trading in the United States. In China, he helped the firm broker A-shares to domestic institutional investors and qualified foreign institutional investment (QFII) quota to foreign investors.

He will therefore bring regional broking experience to GSAM, a background that is expected to help the firm boost its business among North Asian distributors of investment product. This is likely to be especially relevant in Japan, where the corporate pensions market is not growing in total size, making it more of a zero-sum game among fund managers.

Meanwhile his arrival in Tokyo, which becomes official from January 1, is meant to provide extra firepower to Daisuke Toki, the partner responsible for running that market. As co-CEO for Japan, Toki will have more time to dedicate to working with clients there, while sharing the managerial responsibilities with Keogh. Both report to Bolitho.

The appointment of Keogh to the North Asia role is not meant to stop there, says Bolitho. Goldman Sachs' securities business is already geared around the fact that people and capital are flowing between Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing and Shanghai.

GSAM's client-coverage staff are already travelling within these markets to get a better idea of their economies and structure, and the activities of key institutions, information they can then share with clients in the home market. "There's a flow of information among these centres," Bolitho says. "The links between Japan and Korea, in particular, are stronger than our historical perception; the alignment of purpose between clients in these two markets has become greater."

Bolitho says that with his taking on an elevated Asia plus-Japan role and Keogh focusing on distribution for North Asia, GSAM needs an executive to handle day-to-day issues in other parts of the region. He would not say whether this would be an external or internal hire, only that the position should be filled in early 2010.